May 2008 Archives

square plate paintings

At one point I thought I had a notebook illness, but instead I have come to realize that these many  books are my assets--the varieties of shape, size, and function push new problems and suggest new solutions.Yesterday I posted circular plate images drawn from rectangular books. Today's square plate paintings are pulled from my 8-inch square notebooks.

My sketchbooks serve as both a private place to experiment and a portable stage to carry and to show-and-tell what I have been fooling around with. The books hold ideas in more or less chronological order. I do get ahead of myself laying in color, but then I go back and add more layers. The books become a collection spot for bits of sketches, idea scraps, color, a stray word or two, and an occasional quote.








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Working on a small mailing I decided to use handmade envelopes. These are made from experimental paintings for plate ideas.  Sometimes they are scrap paper that I insert behind the page I'm working on so that I don't get the whole sketchbook gummed up with sloppy paint. These "outside the margin" pages can get really beautiful when my focus is elsewhere.
When the pages get cut up using a template for the envelope shape,  I pay some attention to placement but as the image is folded and glued into a container it crops and combines the image in unforseen ways. As stamps were adhered, Warren and one of Zoe's friends asked, "Did you photograph these? They are really beautiful." So I did that before mailing these paintings out as messengers sneaking handmade art into daily life.




shards and eggs

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goose-egg-and-glazed-shard-plate.jpgSometimes on my walks I see things that are inspiring. And they ignite a new way of working or looking. Other times I find something that I recognize that I have already been working on, in this case a broken goose egg on the edge of a swampy trail. At first I thought it was plastic. I recognized the edge of my shard plates. These are bowls that began a few years ago when my slip was too strong for the clay body and cracked the edges as they dried. I decided to let go of the  "good craftsmanship" sensibility that said these were a failure and put on my artist hat that said there are no mistakes in art. ... and ask "Now what?." I snapped off the edges and remembered how when I traveled in Japan I loved looking at remains of once whole pots and found them mysterious and often found myself making drawings of the partial patterns and arbitrary shapes.


postcard drawings

I got inspired to send a postcard. I needed one with an original drawing, so I ended up with ten drawings, one on each of my "tool" postcards.  Here's a couple, the rest are on the "extended" link.



I had a moment of panic as my cups began to crack when I put a layer of slip on them. I began to second guess the use of paper clay. At the same time I tried to put on my artistic hat asking, "Now what?  Can I use these cracks or just slip wetter to avoid them?" I realized that I needed to see some fired results. When working in clay it is easy to get too attached to any one phase of the work. I have to constantly remind myself of the transformations that happen from wet to leather-hard to dry to fired to use. As much as I love any one aspect of material change, the proof of whether an idea will work is in the final firing. So I fired a few pieces to cone 6 (electric), print-glazed with our basalt-rock-black, just to make sure that the clay would look OK and hold up as expected. Now I can press on...


printed cups

In Mr. LaHotan's second-grade art class I was excited when we were going to make things out of clay. But before we could move from painting to pottery, we had to tell him the difference. Since it seemed so obvious to me that clay was 3-dimensional, I stayed quiet. He stressed that when we worked in clay we had to observe our progress from every direction.

Surprisingly, I still see it differently. Trying to combine what I love about working on paper and what I love about 3-dimensional clay I am mixing my paint so it is like slip and mixing my slip so it is like paint. I write in my fast, illegible script and paint in my notebook. Then, transitioning to slip and clay, I search for the same feeling. When the claywork drawing seems more exciting, I alter my sketching materials yet again. The cups above are the result of printed handwriting; the page below shows template-shaped ideas for the cups.

sung-jae-choi-2008-9.jpgSung Jae Choi, a Korean artist, has a new exhibition of work at the Pucker Gallery in Boston. The catalog appeared in my mailbox today.There is energy and restraint in the pallet of slip glaze and form. There is a touch of sentimentality, however the sensitivity and the Korean ungainliness that I find evocative keeps me looking.  There's a PDF of the exhibit on the Pucker Gallery website.


turning paper to clay

I've been drawing on paper cups, trying to focus some new ideas. The cups are cheap, since they're recycled,  They provide  three-dimensional canvases, stand-ins for my handmade versions.  Yesterday, I expanded some paper templates. To make them, I rolled some thin slabs from paper-clay. That's clay with cellulose added to increase the dry-workability. We'll see what material gifts the combination provides.


Warren and I talk all the time, but we thought we'd extend the conversation. There's always lots of ideas flying around our studio, but they take time to gestate.  So here's a gathering place for rough ideas--images, drawings, and words.